Hulan Jack

Hulan Edwin Jack (December 29, 1906 – December 19, 1986) was a prominent Saint Lucian-born New York politician who in 1954 became the highest ranking African American municipal official up until that time, when he was elected Borough President of Manhattan.[1]

Early life

Jack was born on December 29, 1906, in Saint Lucia, and spent his early years in British Guiana before emigrating to the United States.[2] His father was a minister in the African Orthodox Church. The young Hulan worked as a janitor at a paper box factory, eventually rising to become a vice president of the firm.[1]

He went on to become active in politics with Tammany Hall, winning several elections to the New York State Assembly, representing parts of Harlem in the 163rd, 164th, 165th, 166th, 167th, 168th and 169th New York State Legislatures from 1941 to 1953. As a legislator, he attempted unsuccessfully to pass legislation that would block the racial segregation in New York State public schools and in the sale of property.[3]

Borough President

In November 1953, Jack was elected Borough President of Manhattan, making him one of the nation's most important African-American elected officials.[1][4][5]

In 1956, Jack was the featured speaker at an event called "Interracial Sunday" at Loyola University New Orleans. This caused a major controversy, and Emile Wagner, one of the founders of the New Orleans White Citizens Council, obtained material from the House Unamerican Activities Committee which suggested that Jack was a former member of subversive organizations. Jack denied the charges, accusing the White Citizens Council of a "rearguard action to disobey the decision handed-down by the Supreme Court on desegregation in schools." New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner defended Jack, calling him "the highest grade of American that I know of."[6]

In 1959, Jack was indicted for allowing a friend, Sidney Ungar, to pay a $4,400 bill for the remodeling of his apartment. It was charged that Ungar, a real estate developer, hoped to obtain a contract from the city in return for the favor, even though Jack voted against granting Ungar the contract. Jack was tried twice; the first trial ended with a hung jury, and in the second trial, an all-white jury found him guilty of accepting the gift and of then conspiring to hide it.[5][7] On January 16, 1961, Jack was sentenced to a suspended one-year term in prison, which had the effect of automatically removing him from the office of Borough President.[8]

Return to Assembly

Jack was elected a member of the State Assembly from 1968 to 1972, representing the 70th District in the 177th, 178th and 179th New York State Legislatures. In 1972, Jack was convicted of extortion, along with five others. They were trying to force shop owners to carry a line of products manufactured by a company owned by Jack.[9] He received a three-month prison term and a $5,000 fine. He appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied his appeal.[10] He was later pardoned by President Jimmy Carter according to his daughter.[11]

LaRouche movement

Jack became involved with the LaRouche movement, acting as a consultant to the 1980 presidential campaign of Lyndon LaRouche.[12] The LaRouche publishing house, New Benjamin Franklin House, published Jack's autobiography, Fifty Years a Democrat.[12] Jack and LaRouche founded the Committee for a New Africa Policy, which lobbied for short term aid and long-term infrastructure development for Africa.[2] In 1984, Jack became a founding member and board member of the LaRouche-affiliated Schiller Institute.[13] His daughter said the association was "unfortunate".[11]


Jack died of cancer on December 19, 1986, in St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan.[14] He belonged to the Roman Catholic church.[15] He was 79.


  1. Johnson, John H., ed. (November 19, 1953). "Hulan Jack Wins N. Y. Election, Becomes Top Negro City Official". Jet. Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. 5 (2): 8–9.
  2. Biography at
  3. Biondi, Martha, To Stand And Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City, Harvard University Press, 2003, pp. 117, 242
  4. Johnson, John H., ed. (December 10, 1953). "Hulan Jack Tries New Chair". Jet. Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. 5 (5): 5.
  5. "New York: Borrowing Trouble". Time. January 25, 1960.
  6. Anderson, R. Bentley, Black, White, and Catholic: New Orleans Interracialism, 1947-1956, Vanderbilt University Press, 2005, pp. 154-159
  7. "Sequels: Found Guilty". Time. December 19, 1960.
  8. Kihss, Peter (January 17, 1961). "Hulan Jack Gets Suspended Term; Judge Scores Him — Year in Prison Is Dropped — Close Vote Foreseen on Successor in Post". New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  9. Severo, Richard (December 9, 1970). "Hulan Jack and 5 Others Indicted for Labor Fraud". New York Times. p. 1.
  10. "Supreme Court Spurns Appeal by Hulan Jack". New York Times. March 27, 1973.
  11. "Hulan Jack". San Francisco Chronicle. Dec 22, 1986. p. 41.
  12. Biondi, Martha, To Stand And Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City, Harvard University Press (2003), p. 324.
  13. "Hon. Hulan E. Jack — Former Borough President of Manhattan Development, Not Despair". Schiller Institute — Founding Conference. July 2–4, 1984. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  14. Saxon, Wolfgang (December 22, 1986). "Hulan E. Jack Dies at 79; Ex-Politician in Harlem". New York Times. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  15. Perkins, Bill; Adams, Michael Henry (September 26, 2004). "Chipping Away At Harlem". New York Times.
New York Assembly
Preceded by
Oscar Garcia Rivera
New York State Assembly
New York County, 17th District

Succeeded by
District abolished
Preceded by
Warren J. McCarron
New York State Assembly
New York County, 14th District

Succeeded by
Kenneth M. Phipps
Preceded by
Jose Ramos-Lopez
New York State Assembly
70th District

Succeeded by
Jesse Gray
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert F. Wagner, Jr.
Borough President of Manhattan
Succeeded by
Edward R. Dudley
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